None Dropped, No Fresh Face, Handique Stripped Of Mines

NEW DELHI, Jan 19: No Minister was dropped but there were major changes in portfolios in the reshuffle of the Union Cabinet today which saw S Jaipal Reddy getting Petroleum, Praful Patel moving to Heavy Industries, Kamal Nath to Urban Development and Murli Deora to Corporate Affairs.

The exercise, described as “minor” by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who promised a “more expansive exercise” after the budget session of Parliament starting next month, saw the elevation of three Ministers of State’”Praful Patel, Shriprakash Jaiswal and Salman Khursheed‘”to Cabinet rank and induction of three new faces’”Beni Prasad Verma, Ashwani Kumar and KC Venugopal’”as Ministers of State. Kumar made a reentry into the government having been a minister in UPA I.

Verma was inducted as Minister of State with independent charge while Ministers of State Ajay Makhen and KV Thomas got promotion when they got ministries with independent charge.

The change of portfolios adversely affected Sports Minister MS Gill who has been moved to Statistics and Program Implementation, Virbhadra Singh from Steel to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Vilasrao Deshmukh from Heavy Industries to Rural Development and Murli Deora from Petroleum to Corporate Affairs.

The other Cabinet Ministers whose portfolios were changed were BK Handique from whom Mines was taken away leaving him only with Development of Northeastern Region and CP Joshi, who was shifted from Panchayati Affairs and Rural Development to Road Transport and Highways.

Kapil Sibal, who was recently given Telecom portfolio after the exit of DMK’s A Raja, retained both Telecom and HRD ministries while Science and Technology and Earth Sciences were taken away from him.

Sharad Pawar, President of  NCP, which was the only Congress ally to be touched in this reshuffle, lost Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Changes were also affected in the ministries of the Cabinet members including Selja, Subodh Kant Sahay and Pawan Kumar Bansal. Selja lost Tourism and got Culture in addition to Housing and Urban and Poverty Alleviation, which she had, while Sahay was shifted from Food Processing Industries to Tourism.

Bansal retained Parliamentary Affairs and shed Water Resources to Khursheed, who was shifted from Corporate Affairs.  Bansal got new charge of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences while Khursheed retained Minority Affairs.

Civil Aviation, held by Praful Patel, has now gone to Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi as additional charge.

(Courtesy: Press Trust of India)

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